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Champions just too good for Bourgoin

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 10:48

- 09/10/2006 10:48

Heineken Cup champions Munster laid a huge marker down when they overpowered Leicester Tigers to win 21-19 in Round 1.

The wily champions may have won with a late Ronan O’Gara penalty, but showed enough strength and guile throughout the match to put the fear into all who will face them.

Add that to the fact that this week they are playing at fortress Thomond Park – a ground where they have never lost a Heineken Cup match – and the outlook for Bourgoin is bleak.

They found themselves out-muscled by Cardiff Blues in Round 1, and a second defeat so early on in the competition could be fatal for the Frenchmen.

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Champions just too good for Bourgoin

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 10:48

- 09/10/2006 10:48

Champions Munster won their 10th Heineken Cup match in a row at Thomond Park on Saturday night.

Munster coach Declan Kidney made only one change to the side who opened their Cup defence with a thrilling win over Leicester Tigers last weekend, bringing in Denis Leamy at the back of the scrum in the place of the injured Anthony Foley.

A packed Thomond Park were full of voice as their heroes ran out into the gloom, and even an early penalty goal from Bourgoin fly-half Benjamin Boyet couldn’t silence them.

Opposite number Ronan O’Gara – the leading scorer in Cup history – had the chance to add another five points, but couldn’t control a bouncing ball near the uprights.

The game’s opening try went begging for only 60 seconds, though, with Test hooker Frankie Sheahan powering over the line after a clever lineout move.

Bourgoin – huge underdogs to get within 20 points of the Cup holders – entered into the spirit of the match with a length-of-the-field move that ended when burly centre Salesi Finau was bundled out inches from the Munster try-line.

Boyet and O’Gara traded penalty goals as Munster realised the match wasn’t going to be the walk in the park predicted by many, but things were blown wide open when Bourgoin scrum-half Mike Prendergast was yellow-carded by English referee Wayne Barnes for a professional foul.

Prendergast, a former Munster player, pulled back Leamy as centre Barry Murphy made a clean break and the home side took immediate advantage of their extra man with quick-fire tries to winger Ian Dowling and Murphy.

Munster began running everything to nail down a try bonus point before the halftime break, but their game lost a bit of shape and the French side had a glimmer of hope at only 20-6 down.

A superb O’Gara chip gave Dowling the chance to bag a second try, but the winger’s toe-poke ahead was too strong and full-back Sebastien Laloo was able to come across and clear.

A break from John Kelly gave Munster a sniff of that bonus point, but they were too keen and lost the ball on the French side’s try-line. Lock Carlo Del-Fava picked it up and made several yards before flicking it to replacement Florian Denos, who had far too much pace for the Irish defenders.

Thomond Park fell silent as Boyet added the extras and their side was forced to go back to what they do best – clinical, points-scoring rugby. A rolling maul ground its way towards the French line before lock Donncha O’Callaghan emerged with the ball to dive over.

Kelly bagged his side’s fifth try after some good work from centre Trevor Halstead, with replacement Munster hooker Andy Kyriadou and Dinos adding late scores.

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